There's a lot of hake in the market lately, at a good price, but when I can't get it, I sometimes splurge on grouper (fished off the coast of Panama). It's a meaty fish, something like monkfish, so dense that you cannot use the 10-minutes-per-inch-in-a-very-hot-oven rule. The thick piece in the photo took more than 20 minutes (granted, I never leave fish on the counter to come to room temperature as some chefs do; it starts to deteriorate too quickly).
The bright greens under the fish are sauteed leeks and escarole mixed with roasted fennel and asparagus, and at the very end, fresh or frozen peas. I've been making the greens for a couple of weeks and they're good fresh the first night and even reheated the second.
Grouper with leeks, escarole, fennel, asparagus, and peas
Give the vegetables a head start, then cook the fish when the fennel is done and itís time to add the asparagus to the pan. Use the same hot oven for both.
2 pounds boneless grouper
Olive oil (for sprinkling)
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 bulbs fresh fennel, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 bunch asparagus, ends snapped, stalks cut into thirds
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 leeks, thinly sliced and soaked in cold water for 20 minutes
1/2 head escarole
1 1/2 cups frozen peas, thawed or fresh peas
1 tablespoon chopped fresh regular or lemon thyme
1 lemon, cut into 6 wedges
1. Set the oven at 450 degrees.
2. Cut the fish into 6 even pieces. If the grouper is very thick, halve it lengthwise, then cut each half into 3 pieces. Rub both sides with oil, salt, and pepper. Set in a baking dish and cover; refrigerate.
3. On a large rimmed baking sheet, spread the fennel. Sprinkle with oil. Roast for 25 minutes. Add the asparagus, toss well, and continue roasting for 10 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the olive oil and when it is hot, add the leeks, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring often, for 12 minutes, or until the leeks are beginning to brown. Add the escarole and cook, stirring often, for 3 minutes. Add the peas and cook for 3 minutes more or until they are hot. Stir in the fennel and asparagus.
5. Cover the fish with parchment paper. Roast it for 20 to 25 minutes or until it is tender and flaky.
6. Divide the greens among 6 plates. Add a piece of fish to each one. Sprinkle with thyme and serve with lemon. Sheryl Julian
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ContributorsSheryl Julian, the Globe's Food Editor, writes regularly for the Food section.
Devra First is the Globe's food reporter and restaurant critic. Her reviews appear weekly in the Food section.
Ellen Bhang reviews Cheap Eats restaurants for the Globe and writes about wine.